tv Washington Week With Gwen Ifill PBS July 19, 2014 1:30am-2:01am PDT
gwen: the world seems to be in uproar. we explain what we know and what we don't. tonight on "washington week" -- >> point out the obvious. we live in a complex world and at a challenging time. gwen: and that was before this happened. >> shot down, not an accident. blown out of the sky. gwen: and before this happened. [explosion] gwen: a ground war from gaza. >> now we have rockets and we have to defend ourselves. gwen: as the crisis in ukraine continues to build, the president and his u.n. ambassador pointed the finger squarely at russia. >> we know that they are heavily arm and would they are trained and we know that that's not an accident. that is happeng because of russian support.
>> russiart can end this war. russia must end this war. gwen: quarkts in gaza, rockets in israel and uncertainty everywhere, we examine u.s. option. covering the week's rapidly o-- developing issues -- michael crowley of "time" magazine. yolande knell, magazine editor of "torn policy magazine" alexis simendinger, of realclearpolitics and john harwood of cnbc and "the new york times." >> award-winning reporting and analysis. covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill". corporate funding for washington est virginia is provided by -- -- "washington week" isgt provid
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administrations -- stations from viewers like you. once again, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. families around the world are in mourning as conflict claims innocent lives from the nether and, in ukraine, in israel and gaza. the wars have sprung from deep-seated disagreement, the fruit of failed cease-fires, collapsed negotiations, lack of political will and programs simple misjudgment. it has plunged the united states into multiple foreign policy standoffs abroad. after nearly 300 died when an airliner was shot down over ukraine, president obama warned today about jumping to conclusion but he and his ambassador suggested that russian president vladimir putin was complicit in the tragedy. >> it is not possible for these separatists to function the way they're functioning, to have the
equipment that they have, set aside what's happened with respect to the malaysian airlines, a group of separatists can't shut down military transport planes or shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated training and equipment and that is coming from russia. >> most members of the international community have been warn for months about the devastation that would come if russia did not stop wait started. gwen: for the president, that was relatively tough talk. oes that get us past sanctions as a solution? >> i'm not sure and i'm not sure how much more sanctions we're going to see. the question is will the revulsion lead to real action that europe has been very hesitant to take.ta even though before this tragedy the death toll was mounting. close to 500 kill and would well
over 1,000 injured in this conflict. the europeans still feel their economies are extremely fragile and are wary of taking action that could not -- knock them back into a -- recession. i don't think you'll see anymore -- anything more than sanctions. there have been calls, especially from republicans that we should start arming ukrainians. i don't think it's a going to happen. a lot of revulsion. i'm not sure what the real follow-up action is going to be. gwen: are the white house people saying we have an opening now to get the world's attention on something they had turned away from? >> the rhetoric last night tart started to be in that direction. can we find opportunity out of tragedy? you could hear in the president's remarks, he's talking about the only way out of this was a diplomatic
solution and coming back to that message. i thought it was interesting that he was emphasizing almost as if he wanted european allies to pay attention. he talked about head snapping, walk-up -- wake-up calm. that this cannot be contained and he talked about the repercussions. he ended up today talking to some of his european compatriots, including angela merkel, the chancellor of germany and the prime minister of the united kingdom and cameron said we needed to seek justice and the president and merkel suggested that there's still a difference in the gap in how to pursue the result. gwen: the president always seem to go for international action, to make sure the united states is maybe leading the charge but not by itself. is there any evidence of that,
that does this moment call for that? even control of the crash site seems to be an open question. >> i think the event itself is what's going to drive the change and i'm a little more optimistic i think than michael that this is going to change the game. a shock the conscious event like this is something that, i think even for vladimir putin and russians who rewarded him and some of his truculence with respect to ukraine with pretty robust popularity ratings. everybody has to take a second look when you look at a civilian airliner full of 300 innocent people being shot down in this manner. i think it changes everybody's calculation and yes, it may take time, may take an investigation and rock-solid proof of exactly what happened and once that happens and if it confirms what we suspect, which is separatists armed and trained by russia shot
this plane -- plane down, programs by accident if not on purpose. i think it will change the calculus and perhaps make even putin reconsider. gwen: the reaction so far has been this is ukraine's fault. this was over their territory and everyone is jumping to conclusions in even suggesting we're responsible. what do the facts tell us? >> the facts seem harmed to dispute. this was a very sophisticated rocket. it's difficult to fire and track a plane with this kind of system. the notion that this was random thugs -- it is interesting, though. vladimir putin up until now has been very careful in what he's and cone. i tend to agree be with john. he does not like to be seen as doing things in response to western pressure.
we may want to be in this corner. he made himself feel like he's alied himself with the thugs but he never wants to appear weak. in a weird way the more the u.s. citizen you have to stop this, the less likely he may be to do that. gwen: michael, where's the kiev government in all of this. they're talking about the pro-russian separatists but where is the new president? >> what the president would like is to negotiate some kind of a solution. what ukraine got in their last election was a man who has a decent relationship with putin and moss cow. he's not fully in the western camp or in the eastern camp so to speak. he's a guy that's kind of a bridge between the two worlds and i you thought he might be
able to have a conversation with putin. when he came into office right away he said he was willing to talk but there's been very little time that moscow that putin has a real dip latic interest. putin seems to be seeking and enjoying a certain amount of instability, anarchy, intimidation. he doesn't look to be looking for a sit down around the table type negotiation. what the government has done has responded with force and essentially called off a cease-fire 10 days or two weeks ago and started going after separatists. what's interesting to me is the way in which this fell off the radar of a lot of the world. we had all these other cry says, isis marring in iraq and the situation -- marching in iraq
and the situation in gaza. but the violence and instability has gotten much worse. >> there have been four downed planes since june. a downed transport plane june 13. a downed helicopter, a cargo plane and now this downed jet. so this has been playing out while we were looking elsewhere? >> it's like a drumbeating louder and louder but we have music blaring from the middle east and we can't even hear it. so the crisis we're focused on has been a slow burn. gwen: so what are the options here? the president seemed to say there has to be an investigation and at some point then we can decide what the action would be. whether it's just hoping that putin backs down or is there something we can do to force that? >> the sanction have you is interesting. the germans and europeans are not with us. their financial systems are intertwined with russia. that i don't want to take the
pain of a full cutoff. with russia, they make so much money from energy. they just signed a $20 billion or $30 billion with china. if by some miracle the u.s. would say we're not buying russian gas, they will say all right, we'll sell it to the u.s. russia is immune because of china and other countries. >> i think there's such an interplay between three things. one is the investigation that take place and what that yields. the second is a different calculation by europeans in light of an event like this and a third, you have asia implicated in this because it's a malaysian airline. which makes it more of a global story. and then the third being putin's desire potentially to take the sort of off ramp that yochi
referred to. all of those things may change the equation. gwen: is it possible the white house will keep all its eyes on this issue and nothing else for now? >> the president was today talking about the patience and america leading and having a place in the world to lead. in some ways if he says it he hopes it will be the case. but in all of these situations we're talking about, he seems to be urging patience. he talked today about months of trying to twhork out. he talked about how president putin has -- his words haven't been his deeds all the way through and he didn't offer any suggestion today that he expected that to be different. but he did say the circumstances around him could be different. gwen: perhaps lowering expectations at the same time. it's fair to say that if not for the shock of bodies fallen from
the sky, the ground war with israel's border with gaza would have been the week's most unsettling development and tonight, that, too, was an open-ended conflict. this was israeli prime minister natia hugh on wednesday. >> i believe that all members of the international community should unequivocally condemn hamas and israel's right to defend itself. gwen: the next day, margaret warner spoke to the palestinian ambassador to the u.s. >> this is not an issue of who started figures, fired first and who reat theuated. now the most important task is to reach a formula acceptable to both sides for a cease-fire. gwen: after that interview ended, the ground war again began. once again, the president is tiptoeing through land mines. >> we are hopeful that il
will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and that all of us are working hard to return to the cease-fire that was reached in november of 2012. gwen: the cease-fire of 2012. wishful thinking or is that possible? >> i think it's possible. this is not a war that either side wanted. israel has fought wars with enemies in gaza and lebanon where it did want to go in that was not the case here. hamas had no desire too. in a way they're like two actors in roles who really don't want to play anymore. hamas has to get something. they felt they didn't get out of the cease-fire with israel. so hamas is locked into a situation where they need a win. israel may not get it either. gwen: you spent a lot of the
time on the ground in the meast and i wonder if this feels different to you? >> unfortunately this feels grimly the same with israel and palestinians, it's sort of peak-valley, peak-valley and fundamentally nothing ever changes. it's almost like a script. you can see the bombs and rockets and deaths on both sides. 250 roughly palestinians killed. a few israelis killed. you see the numbers riles but nothing underlying changes. >> i'm thinking back so what we were saying about vladimir putin not wanting to be seen as backing down, showing weakness and i think that dynamic is very much at play here. bothsides don't want to be the one that's conceding, that's stepping back. a lot of that has to do with domestic pressures. ot showing weakness to
constituencies and being taken over by more aggressive or militant factions. netanyahu was crisised for not mounting a ground mission before. hilly clinton said in 2012 that our analysis was the d.b. was being pushed into a ground invasion that he didn't want and needed an exit ramp. that was why the president decided to send her end and stick his neck out a little bit and have an american broker troops. gwen: if that's true then wasn't there a failure in this administration to provide an exit ramp or was it unavoidable? >> in this particular case, what you hear the president talking about is that he wants the to be able to provide that offramp, whether it's the situation with putin -- he's used that term, off ramp. seems he understands or has
recognized reluctantly that with netanyahu it's not there, it's not going to be there. so the way he was talking about it food was almost a secondary -- today was almost a secondary caution. we understand this is what you want to do and you want to focus on the tunnels but -- and hoping that netanyahu and the government is going to exercise a level of self control on their own. gwen: there was a -- there were a lot of questions raised about kerry's what is wildly considered to be a non-brokered peace solution. is that optimistic? >> i think it's pretty hard to be optimistic at this point. you never know what a new turn in the road could lead to but i wouldn't be optimistic about that. it's difficult for me to blame the administration given the
recurrent pattern that yochi mentioned. it's been going on for a very, very long time. gwen: is there a way, does the u.s. have a role in this? at what point does the white house have to play a role, whether it's once again assembling an international coalition or not, or step back and let it play out? >> israel doesn't seem to want the u.s. to be particularly involved right now and i think one hope of the a inistration is that as the israeli ambassador told me the other day said, we a hugh has - netanyahu has said we pay ex expand this they want to take out some of the missile sites and tunnels. dan: -- gwen: there are also dilemmas within dilemmas. the egyptians were not able to
broker a deal because of their own problems, not because of the u.s. at all. >> interest ch is interesting. back in 2012 you had morsi, now deposed in prison, very close to netanyahu. he had the credibility to say to them you have to stop. there has to be a deal and he did that. now they've been battling hamas in sinai. and you have hamas engaged in a military war with israel. you had a mediator in 2012, not now. so the obama administration, less talk about meeting from behind, using proxies and allies. the allies we've used in the past are not there anymore. >> one other outgrowth of that change and the egypt contacts is that israel sees a chance to nail hamas here in a way they hope hamas may not be able to rebound from. because the tunnels have been cut off and the egyptian regime
is not allowing the flow of arms in gaza. gwen: the palestinians are not crazy about what hamas is doing either. >> that's right but the issue is egyptians not allowing the re- supply of hamas. the home among israelis is if they can take out a lot of these rockets they're not going to be able to replenish them. i think there's a sense that we kind of got them where we want them and let's not let up. gwen: is there a back channel way, however, that exists -- we saw the lead negotiator trying to get people back to the table and say never mind. is there a bat channel way that the white house is counting on to force outcomes or does this to play its way out? >> we keep coming back to this tiny country, qatar, which at best is somewhat of an ally.
they have close ties to happenas, egypt, and us. if there is going to be a proxy, it will be qatar. they brokered a deal to get back berg tall and have been negotiating with the afghanistan. >> i was talking today to a former obama foreign policy administration who said we can lean a little bit on the people of qatar and the turks. >> the turks, the condemnation of israel you always hear from the arab world has been silent. the feeling might be that turkey has military and economic ties to israel. they do have tries to -- ties to hamas. hat they could be the proxy. >> well, it's -- it's just a tough problem and, you know, it looked tough in 2012 but you did have these actors who all seemed
to have incentives to step in and you don't have that now. i wish i could say something pithy about how it's going to wrap up but i don't see it. it could be one of those situations -- think about the case of the malaysian jet over the you karen -- ukraine. the story was dominated by a kind of a freak, horrible thing that happened that mobilized public opinion. will rockets land somewhere in israel or will an israeli air strike inflict some kind of damage that rivets the world and changes the narrative, so to speak. the narrative in a conflict like this is as important as a campaign narrative. gwen: in the way you discuss it it sounds like the white house has no control over this narrative. and the president ice critics say that he seems too passive in all of this. how, then, does the white house prioritize what's important?
>> they haven't looked like they know the answer to that themselves. i guess that's the best way i can put it. they seem to be tackling each issue trying to juggle all at once. i think there's some indication when you watch where their attention is going what they put aside for the moment. the president is talking and talking, which is his natural inclination, to keep the dialogue open to our u.s. allies and friends. but the analysis doesn't seem to be any clearer, i would argue, to president obama or even secretary of state kerry in the situation in israel. gwen: john, the white house -- the president said earlier today that this has been a head-snapping moment. i wonder if it is for the white house as well as for the rest of us who are citizens of the world watching planes fall from the sky, watching tanks and little
boys being killed on beaches and all oaf these horrible things we've seen this week. is it a head-snapping moment for the white house? >> there's no question about it. we haven't talked about the young children from central america coming to the american border and what happens to those people? it is an extraordinary moment that you have so much chaos and disorder in the world. you have a president who's committed as a matter of policy to not intervening militarily abroad, so it is how he reacertificates control and manages this set of cry says isn't exactly clear. gwen: i feel like we've just scratched the surface but i have a feeling we're going to be talking about this for some time to come. we'll continues this conversation on line on the "washington week" webcast extra, which streams right after we go off the air and you can find it all week long on the website.
there's so much more to say. keep up with developments with me and judy woodruff every night on the pbs news hour and we'll see you every week here. good night. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> the future of surgery is within sight. our research ask studying our real-time multimoe tallty imagery during surgery can help precision and outcome. it all starts here. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by prudential. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank
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